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    Thursday, August 22, 2019-12:29:02A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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IT&E plan doesn’t impress Leepan

REPRESENTATIVE Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero is not impressed with IT&E’s plan to improve its broadband technology in the CNMI.

Guerrero said IT&E made a presentation last week at the governor’s office regarding the Next Generation Network, a wireless broadband internet access that will use “new” and “enhanced” technology.

“Why now? Where were the Delgados to address the CNMI’s concerns when the island was cut off from communication with the rest of the world?” Guerrero said referring to IT&E’s owner and the network outage that occurred in July.

“The Delgados and IT&E want to upgrade their microwave link and introduce [new technology]. So, does this mean that they are not going to replace their dilapidated fiber optic cable?” Guerrero said in an interview.

“The lifespan of an undersea fiber optic cable is 20 years and it has been 18 years since the laying of the fiber optic cable — shouldn’t this be a concern for IT&E and the Delgados? What happened to the ARRA grant for which they used the CNMI to secure and then used $8 million of the $9 million that IT&E was awarded to upgrade and maintain the existing undersea fiber optic cable for a new billing system on Guam? Are we going to continue to allow IT&E and the Delgados to exploit and enrich its monopolized business practice here in the CNMI or should we put a brake and let them know that the CNMI has waited way too long while suffering at the mercy of their business practice?”

Guerrero said he will not allow such practice to continue.

“What we need is a competitive business approach, not a monopoly, which IT&E and the Delgados have taken advantage of for many years. The Inos-Torres administration should encourage other investors willing to move forward with redundancy and with an additional undersea fiber optic cable should one of the undersea fiber optic cables break.

“Microwave is not the solution, but redundancy is the solution. The problem is the cable is at its usage peak and must be replaced. The question that I want IT&E to answer is when was the last preventive maintenance done with the undersea cable, and do they have any record reflective of maintenance?”

Asked for comment, IT&E emailed the following statement:

“There have been several erroneous statements reported in the media concerning the life expectancy of IT&E’s undersea cable between the CNMI and Guam.   IT&E wants the public, government officials and other interested parties to know that any such statement is factually incorrect.

“Long distance undersea cable systems utilize electronic repeaters, which generally limit overall life expectancy to approximately 25 years. Those repeaters sometimes fail and/or the systems become uneconomical to operate and the systems are retired in favor of new systems. Because of the shorter distance between the CNMI and Guam, IT&E operates an unrepeated cable system between Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam. Industry sources assure us that unrepeated cables, like IT&E’s undersea cable have two to three times the normal life expectancy of repeated cable systems. ‘The undersea cable has been in operation for the last 18 years, and according to industry experts is expected to last an additional 32 years with proper maintenance,’ said Jim Oehlerking, chief executive officer of PTI, IT&E’s parent company.

Jim OehlerkingJim Oehlerking

“‘Further, as part of its quest to provide great service, IT&E conducts scheduled annual inspections and maintenance on its cable system and utilizes the latest optical equipment to provision service. IT&E is also committed to its cable operations by maintaining spare fiber cable and equipment on site in the event of a contingency. In fact, the most recent repair was accomplished with on-site equipment from IT&E inventory. Additionally, IT&E and has signed multi-year maintenance agreements with both TE Subcom, the company that completed the most recent repair, and local provider CALPAC to assure continued operations well into the future. CALPAC has just completed a full inspection of all of the submarine cable landing locations in Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam. Plans are in progress for at least doubling our redundant network capacity, to allow for ongoing operations for critical government, and enterprise services in the unlikely event of any future undersea cable service interruptions,’ said Oehlerking.

“The recent fiber cut was related not to the age of the fiber but rather the fact that the armored casing, which had previously been replaced in 2008, had come free from the reef during the storm surge and subsequently damaged by the pounding surf.   The armored casing and fiber cable inside on the Saipan landing has been upgraded and replaced, reinforced and is entirely new thus, assuring years of continued use.   The repair was made as quickly as possible and without hesitation. The total cost of the repair exceeded $2,000,000, which demonstrates IT&E’s continued commitment to customer service and the CNMI. IT&E will continue with such investments in the future and is in the process of a major wireless upgrade for the CNMI, which will be announced shortly.

“‘Due to the quality of the cable we have installed, our maintenance policies and our regular inspections of all sections of the cable, we fully expect our cable to have a much longer than normal life span,’ said Oehlerking. He went on to say, ‘IT&E spends significant money, work hours and other resources every year to insure that our undersea cable provides the highest quality service to all of our customers in all of the islands in our market for the longest possible time and we will continue to do so.’”